SkinVue9 Review

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

I’ve used David Burdick’s SkinVue since it first came out.  This handy tool for Vue speeds up the process of making Poser figures look good in Vue.  It can work with figures brought in as Poser, obj, or Collada import so both Poser and Daz Studio users can make use of it.  SkinVue can work with a lot of Poser 8 and Daz figures:

  • Daz’s Michael (M1,M2,M3,M4 and The Freak)
  • Daz’s Victoria (V1,V2,V3 and V4)
  • Daz’s Stephanie Petite
  • Daz’s David
  • Daz’s Aiko
  • Daz’s The Girl
  • Daz’s Millennium Kids
  • Daz’s Kids4
  • Poser Jessie
  • Poser James
  • Poser Ben and Kate
  • Poser Judy
  • Poser Don
  • Poser Will and Penny
  • Poser Miki
  • Poser Laroo
  • Poser Sydney
  • Poser Simon
  • Poser G2 Males
  • Poser G2 Females
  • Poser Terai Yuki2

SkinVue9 is available for new SkinVue users and as a SkinVue9 Upgrade for existing users at Cornucopia3D

So why would you want SkinVue9?

The first big improvement in SkinVue9 is its easier to install than earlier versions – Vue now includes the wxPython library used by SkinVue so all the fiddling around downloading and installing that as well as SkinVue has been done away with.

SkinVue’s biggest selling point for me continues to be that it allows enhancement of the look of Poser figures brought into Vue without having every texture.  I remember the pain of manually work through each and every texture in a Poser import to correct bump maps, highlight colours, reflections and other settings to get a render that didn’t look plastic.

SkinVue9 has two basic modes of operation Enhanced and Procedural.  To help compare and contrast the different modes I’ve rendered the same two shots of Daz’s Victoria 4 without enhancement and with each of the modes.  Please forgive the hair – it’s a rather old hair model but I always think Victoria looked a bit odd bald.  All renders were carried out with the same atmosphere, lights and render settings – the only changes were SkinVue’s to the figures textures.

First here is the unenhanced render of the imported Poser figure…

Victoria 4 No SkinVue

Victoria 4 No SkinVue

Victoria 4 No SkinVue9 Close Up

Victoria 4 No SkinVue Close Up

Enhanced mode takes the texture maps applied to a Poser model and improves the way they appear in Vue.  Personally I think the result is a far more natural looking skin texture than the out the box Poser texture.

Victoria 4 SkinVue9 Enhanced

Victoria 4 SkinVue Enhanced

Victoria 4 SkinVue9 Enhanced Close Up

Victoria 4 SkinVue Enhanced Close Up

Procedural mode uses no texture maps and gives fast rendering; it’s very useful for figures in the distance allowing a great saving on system resources in Vue.  As you can see from the close up shot it’s not so good for close up work.

Victoria 4 SkinVue9 Procedural

Victoria 4 SkinVue Procedural

Victoria 4 SkinVue9 Procedural Close Up

Victoria 4 SkinVue Procedural Close Up

SkinVue offers a lot more options for working with Poser figures in Vue.  You can tune the look of the figure’s texture by modifying warmth, tone, spot, veins and other characteristics.  You can change the colour of the figures lips and nails within Vue without going back to Poser.  You can modify the skin tint in the same way.  Bump values for the head, body, nails and lips can all be changed separately.  Specular shine and intensity can be tweaked without delving into Vue’s material editor over and over again.

You can also turn on tooning of the figure to give a cel shaded, cartoon skin renderer.  The width of the toon edge is configurable.

Victoria 4 SkinVue Toon Render

Victoria 4 SkinVue Toon Render

A separate tab allows access to controls for your figures eyes including various settings for the white and for the iris.  The tint of the white and the iris can easily be set again saving time by avoiding having to go back to Poser to make changes.  Controls also allow the strength of highlights and a reflection map to be set.  The basic highlight options are straightforward to use.  I’m not sure if it’s a lack of skill on my part but I find the reflection map offer doesn’t quite give the results I’d like.  The reflections seem dull and faint even when I turn the settings up to their maximum values.  However unless you’re doing extreme close up pictures of eyes this won’t be a huge issue.

A new feature in SkinVue9 allows easy access to the color, bump, SSS, specular and wetness  texture maps  applied to a model making swapping them quick and easy.  This is potentially another massive time saver over having to open Poser and fiddle around there to change a texture map.

It also includes a number of handy effects – splothching, dirt and wetness can all be applied to a figure in Vue.  Wetness can be configured using a variety of different maps for drips or drops of various sizes.  Layers provide the option to add a layer over the basic texture for Blood, Dirt, Cyborg, Mesh and Reptilian look.

SkinVue includes sixteen preset atmospheres and six preset sets (that add lights and objects to a scene focused on the figure) to help quickly produce attractive renders.  I find these particularly useful when first working with a figure in getting it set up before adding it into a scene or setting up my own lights.

To help with productivity SkinVue lets you save your settings and then load them on other figures in the future.  This is a great time saver if you have a particular “look” you like and want to use over and over again.

SkinVue isn’t perfect.  Personally I can’t really see the point of the underwear layer options for V4 it just seems a bit of a gimmick to me.  I’d really like the Atmospheres tab to give more feedback when an option is selected as I’ve found myself clicking repeatedly unsure if anything has changed without rendering.  Similarly the Maps tab is sometimes a little slow to respond and an indication that it was working (and that Vue hadn’t crashed) would be helpful.

Overall: SkinVue remains an essential tool for any Vue user who uses Poser or Daz figures in their renders and who doesn’t like spending hours fiddling changing settings in textures over and over again.

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